There is no doubt language is shaped around so many different variables, including geography, culture and history. This list of 7 cultural concepts we don’t have in the US is a great example of how subtle differences in our value system can create new words, or the lack of it.
The article makes a great point saying, “If you want to add a new and different perspective to your life, there are plenty of other ways to recognize joy and beauty outside American traditions.” We can certainly broaden our views on life and what’s important in life, when we consider how other people think, and express themselves in other languages.
This lead me to think about how we approach learning a new language. The reason why we are encouraged not to translate each word and sentence into your mother tongue, is that there really is no way to translate and fully understand the meaning of another language. The concept may not exist, or the meaning maybe deeper than what you think it means. You may not know in what context it is appropriate to use the new word. It is far better to create a whole new path in your mind that thinks and feels in the new language, to have a whole new concept when using the new language. This way is definitely not the “easy road”. It requires more effort, but it is worth every effort in the end, since you will broaden your own understanding of the world in the process.
Photo from the Mother Nature Network website, expressing the Danish word Hygge that doesn't exist in the English language
Team of Hansa One Directors, Trainers and Instructors sharing experiences and interests on all things cultures and languages.